Motoring Offences

Motoring Offences explained

The most common road traffic offences are :-

If you have been charged with motoring offences, our experienced & dedicated motoring solicitors can help and advise you on what happens next. Call us today for free initial telephone advice 0115 784 1588

Elements of the offence

Each offence involves various elements that need to be proved to the court by evidence. All offences require an actus reus (the act) and mens rea (the state of mind) on the part of the offender.

Burden of proof

It will normally fall upon the Crown Prosecution Service to prove the matter against the offender. For some offences the burden will transfer to the defence. If the burden of proof is on the Crown Prosecution Service, the standard will be to prove the case beyond reasonable doubt. If the burden has moved to the defence, the standard of proof will be on the balance of probabilities.

Initiation of proceedings

Fixed penalty notices – some offences can be dealt with by way of a fixed penalty notice and will not involve a court appearance. If the offence is admitted and the defendant’s driving licence is submitted to the police within the prescribed time period, the defendant will be fined and their licence will be endorsed with points and returned to them.

Postal Requisition – the majority of offences are begun by way of a postal requisition which is the new name for a Magistrates’ Court summons and details the offence and the date and time of the court hearing. An option will be given to plead guilty by post or enter a not guilty plea by post in the first instance.

Summons – this was the previous method of requesting a person to attend court in relation to a minor road traffic matter and  is a legal document that details the offence and the date and time of the court hearing.

Charge – the police can arrest a person when involved in a motoring offence and them deem it is necessary to arrest them, e.g when their name and address cannot be ascertained to allow service of a postal requisition.

Types of motoring offences

Summary only – these are offences that can only be dealt with in the Magistrates Court. They are normally the more minor road traffic offences e.g speeding, driving without due care and attention, failing to stop and report an accident.

Either way offences – these are offences that can be dealt with in either the Magistrates Court or the Crown Court depending on the seriousness of the offence or whether the offender elects trial by jury, e.g dangerous driving.

Indictable only – these are offences that can only be dealt with in the Crown Court. They are the most serious road traffic offences e.g. causing death by driving whilst disqualified.

Courts

Magistrates Court – all road traffic offences, however serious, will commence in the Magistrates Court. If they are summary only they will stay in the Magistrates Court. If they are either way offences they may stay in the Magistrates Court or they may be allocated to the Crown Court. All indictable only offences will be sent to the Crown Court.

Crown Court – Either way offences may be allocated to the Crown Court,  indictable only offences must be sent to the Crown Court.

Magistrates Court

The Court normally comprises of three lay magistrates or a District Judge.

Crown Court

A Crown Court Judge will deal with all matters except trials which are dealt with by way of a jury made up of twelve jurors who will be advised on matters of law by the Judge.

Plea

Guilty – a defendant may be advised to plead guilty if the elements of the offence are made out or if they admitted the offence.

Not guilty – a defendant may be advised to plead not guilty if the  elements of the offence are not made out or the matter is denied.

No Plea a defendant may be advised not to enter a plea if the matter is either way and it is not clear whether the elements of the offence are made out, where there is some evidence missing or where there may be an alternative charge that is more appropriate and the defence want to make representations to the Crown Prosecution Service.

Venue decision

If the defendant is charged with an either way offence and pleads not guilty or does not enter a plea, the Crown Prosecution Service will make representations as to which court they feel the matter should be dealt with, depending on the seriousness of the offence, taking into account the offender’s previous convictions and the sentencing guidelines for that offence. The defence will be allowed to make representations and the Court will make the final decision as to which court is most appropriate.

Guilty Plea

If the defendant pleads guilty he or she will be sentenced by the court. If the matter is dealt with in the Magistrates Court and the Court feel their powers of sentence were not sufficient, the Magistrates can commit the matter to Crown Court for sentence.

Not guilty plea

If the defendant pleads not guilty, there will be a trial where evidence will be called and Court will reach a verdict. The possible outcomes are:-

  • An acquittal if the defendant is found not guilty
  • A conviction  if the court find the defendant guilty of the offence
  • Alternative verdicts if the Court is not satisfied beyond reasonable doubt about one offence but are satisfied beyond reasonable doubt about another offence they can convict of the other offence if the law allows an alternative verdict to be found by the Court.

Sentence

If the defendant pleads guilty or is convicted after a trial the court will sentence them for the offence.The court  will be referred to the Sentencing Guidelines to assist them in deciding the type of sentence  . This includes how many penalty points to impose if the offence is endorsable or whether to impose a disqualification and if so for how long. The court  should give credit for a guilty plea and take account of any personal mitigation.

Costs

If a private paying individual is found not guilty of an offence, they may be able to claim some of their legal costs back . A company cannot make an application for costs even if acquitted of an offence.

If you have been charged with motoring offences, our experienced & dedicated motoring solicitors can help and advise you on what happens next. Call us today for free initial telephone advice 0115 784 1588

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